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Introduction to MDR

Ministerial Development Review is now a fully integrated part of clergy and ministerial life, not only in the Diocese of London, but also generally in the Church of England. Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy states:

“The clergy should participate fully in continuing ministerial education and in appraisal, knowing that accountability involves regular review personally and with others”

Under the provisions of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Regulations, participation in Ministerial Development Review is required of all clergy office holders. The term Review is intentionally used in the Diocese of London’s Scheme as it is seen to be a clergy-led scheme using consultants to assist clergy in undertaking an annual review of their current situation. It is not and cannot be an “Appraisal.”

The Diocese of London’s Ministerial Development Review Scheme was formally established in 1998. Each Episcopal Area has interpreted the Scheme in a way it feels most appropriate for local needs, but the Scheme retains a family resemblance across the diocese. Ministerial Development Review for Readers and Commissioned Ministers has now been integrated into the clergy scheme in Willesden.

The London Scheme in its present form has been in place since 2008. This booklet spells out in more detail the theological undergirding of the scheme, its aims and objectives, and the details of its working. If you have any queries about the scheme and how it operates, please contact one of the MDR Administrators in the first instance.

Aim and objectives of ministerial development review

The aim of ministerial review is that ministers should become more effective Christians in the service of Jesus Christ through self-reflection and the affirmation of their peers.

The objectives are that ministers:

  1. be given an opportunity to pray and reflect on their vocation and ministry;
  2. take stock of their ministry thus far and identify areas on which to build and areas of need which should be given attention;
  3. be given an opportunity to be encouraged and challenged;
  4. become realistic about their strengths and weaknesses;
  5. set goals for their work and personal development;
  6. identify and access both personal and professional training, support and development needs.

This will be achieved through the following framework

  1. A biennial consultant’s review of their ministry, consisting of an assisted self-assessment and addressing issues of personal and professional training, support and development.
  2. A structured triennial interview with their bishop, based on the outcomes of their consultant’s reviews, and concentrating on their ministry in relation to the mission and ministry of the Diocese.
  3. An opportunity to discern development and potential in their ministry (and particularly for parochial clergy in relation to the Parish Mission Action Plan).
  4. An opportunity to identify CMD requirements appropriate to individual clergy.

Foundations of Ministerial Development Review

Why review?

It is generally accepted that there is great value in reflecting on the way we do our work and using that reflection as the basis for further growth. Ministerial Development Review is a way of building on this to support and encourage those who minister publicly in our parishes, chaplaincies, and places of work. One of the major responsibilities of a bishop is the pastoral and professional care of clergy. Ministerial Development Review is an important part of the process for exercising that responsibility. The clergy of this diocese work faithfully and diligently, often in difficult circumstances, to preach the gospel and celebrate the sacraments, to care for those in need, to lead others in prayer and service, to relate the things of God within a society which is changing rapidly. It is important to support and encourage them in this vital ministry.

A theological basis?

Many theological strands can be picked up in Ministerial Development Review process. Often, in his ministry, Jesus took time aside to reflect and to pray; Ministerial Development Review provides an ideal opportunity to reflect on ministry in an organised way, which is different from Retreat and Quiet Days.

However, the practice of MDR can be grounded in several passages in the New Testament, but perhaps most clearly in St Paul’s letters. Paul insists over and again on the mutuality of the members that make up Christ’s body, the church: each has their place in the work of ministry, they cannot manage without one another, and so they must be mutually accountable to one another (Romans 12.3-8, 1 Cor. 12.14-31, Ephesians 4.4-16). Even while he insists on the independence of his own apostleship, Paul is concerned to give an account of his work to the others, and to connect his mission to theirs (Galatians 2.1-2; cf. Acts 15). At the same time, Christians are to encourage one another (Romans 1.12, 1 Thessalonians 5.11). And the ministerial gifts that God gives need to be identified, developed, and from time to time re-awakened: so Timothy is urged to “rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1.6). These Pauline threads – of mutual accountability, mutual encouragement, and the rekindling of gifts – make up the texture of MDR.

For whom?

All clergy (deacons, priests and bishops; self supporting and stipendiary) who are licensed in the diocese are required to undergo a regular review, with a consultant of their choice, from the list provided. Those in their first two years of ordained ministry are exempt, as they have a review process built into their initial year of ministry, but third year curates are encouraged to participate. Those who have just taken up a new incumbency and are part of the induction process for new incumbents are not reviewed in their first year.

Who reviews?

Ministerial Development Review Consultants are appointed by the bishop for their wisdom and experience. They are chosen for their skill at listening to others, summarising and feeding back the information they receive, helping people to set realistic working goals, and helping them deepen their reflection on their ministry. They are all church members. Many are lay people, using their experience and insights to express the partnership between clergy and laity in the strengthening and development of the Church’s mission.

Consultants undergo training for this ministry to develop their confidence in using their skills in the context of the scheme. They meet together biennially with the Bishop to review the process.

All undertake this ministry in a voluntary capacity. A full list of Consultants, with short biographies, is circulated annually.

The review

The Review is essentially an opportunity for clergy to sit down with someone familiar with their work, for about two hours, and talk about their ministry. They will talk about what has gone well over the past year and what has contributed to this. They will also consider areas that have been more difficult and whether there are possibilities for action. There will be an opportunity to agree some realistic goals for the next year and to identify further support or development needs that might help in the attainment of those goals.

The interview will be aided by a preparation process, which will provide the background for the discussion. This will remain confidential to minister and consultant. Part of that preparation is the minister invites between four to six people who experience the minister’s ministry to complete a feedback form (MDR3) and return it to the minister. The minister then completes their own questionnaire (MDR2) incorporating any helpful insights from the feedback form, and sends the MDR2 form to the consultant at least ten days before the meeting with the consultant. The consultant will be responding in a non-directive way to the agenda presented by the minister and review process.

At the end of the discussion a summary statement with objectives for the coming two years is agreed by the minister and consultant. This objectives form (MDR4) is sent to the MDR Administrator.

The Ministerial Development Review scheme

The scheme is based upon biennial review on a two year cycle

  • This 2 year cycle expects that there will normally be continuity of MDR Consultant
  • Outcome objectives can be set for the whole two year cycle
  • A new consultant will normally be sought for the next two-year cycle
  • However, flexibility will remain in the scheme for change of consultant, or occasionally seeing the same consultant over two two-year cycles
  • Episcopal Review will run triennially alongside the cycle, but will not be dependent up it

Professional Development

Ministerial Development Review is a vital part of the life-long development process that all clergy and ministers will be involved with. MDR helps to identify those areas in which time and energy can be most usefully focused.

A number of training, education and development opportunities are available through the Area, Diocese, St Mellitus College and other organisations. More information can be obtained from the Area Director of Ministry or CMD Officer, and your consultant will also have access to some information.

Ultimately however, Professional Development is the responsibility of each person, and every member of the clergy is expected to take personal and ministerial development seriously.
Some funding to assist in training, education and development is available through the CMD Officer. In order to access this clergy will have to demonstrate that they are committed to the MDR process. Additional funds (not from Common Fund income) are also available for this important task.

Further details about Continuing Ministerial Development can be found on the CMD page, here.

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